8 August 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of ASEAN – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Malaysia, along with Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore were its founding members back in 1967. Brunei joined ASEAN after its independence in 1984, followed by Vietnam (in 1995), Laos (1997), Myanmar (1997), and Cambodia (1999).
Buddhism and Islam are the two majority religions in 9 out of 10 ASEAN countries. Buddhism is the religion of the majority in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Singapore; whereas Islam is the dominant faith in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. The people of the Philippines are mainly Catholic.
In fact, the three top countries in the world with the largest percentage of Buddhists in their population are all located in ASEAN – Thailand (93%), Cambodia (90%), and Myanmar (88%). Theravada Buddhism is predominant across mainland Southeast Asia in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Mahayana Buddhism predominates in Vietnam and Singapore; it is also practised by the majority of Malaysian Buddhists.
In the next few weeks, we will bring you more interesting facts about ASEAN as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this diverse community of 10 member countries!